40 years ago today - Dec 2, 1978-Saturday

[Leonard Arrington (Church Historian)]
I now (Dec. 2, 78) make comments about 1978. This was a year, in my opinion, when Elder [G. Homer] Durham became determined to become the Church Historian, i.e., to take active charge of our division and replace me as its administrator. He sought to get me on to a program of research and writing, and to "take over" to himself the determination of what other members of the staff would do. His purpose in doing this was to replace our judgment with his own, cut down our staff and work, and gradually phase out the division. He gave a variety of reasons for doing this, none of which, in my judgment, hold water. He said that the Church needed to cut down on departmental budgets. But other departments, generally speaking, are not reducing staff. ... He said that the authorities of the Church were displeased with our work, distrusted what we are doing, and wished to liquidate our division. This is not the tenor of letters we have received from the First Presidency or other General Authorities, and we firmly believe that the letter from the First Presidency that contains a hint of this was written by Elder Durham himself and given to them by him for their signatures. Only Elder [Ezra Taft] Benson and Elder [Mark E.] Petersen are distrustful of us, and they have been outvoted by the Quorum of the Twelve on two separate occasions that we know of. ... He has said a number of times that he hates to preside over the liquidation of the division, paraphrasing [Winston] Churchill. I do not find this funny.

I am determined not to let him liquidate the division. I am not defying him, publicly at least. But I am insisting upon holding actions which will keep the liquidation to a minimum-in the hope that he will someday change his mind or that he will be replaced. I firmly believe in what we are doing, that what we are doing is beneficial to the Church, and that future generations will call us blessed for doing what we are doing. Believing this firmly, I am determined not to "let the Church down" by giving in to Elder Durham's whims. ... And he, by the way, does not allow us to "defend ourselves" before the advisors to the Twelve. He and Earl Olson meet with them without our presence. So he is our sole link with "approval."

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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